(Reuters) - Manu Tuilagi is back to his bulldozing best just in time for the Six Nations but the key for England will be finding a way to free up the powerful centre in the spaces where he can do the most damage, his team mate George Ford has said.
The injury-plagued Tuilagi has not played in the Six Nations since 2013, but is set to be named in England's 35-man squad for this year's championship, which starts on Feb. 1.
Ford, who plays alongside Tuilagi for Leicester Tigers in the English Premiership, described his team mate as an "explosive" player who offered England "a different dimension".
"With Manu, we need to give him one-on-ones and soft shoulders," the fly-half said. "We've got to work hard on the inside to give him that bit of space on the outside where you can see his full potential.
"I'm not saying he can't smash into people or get you quick release ball from that breakdown. If you want to see Manu at his best in terms of line-breaks, running through people and scoring tries, then the attack has to be smart by fixing guys so he can do what he does best."
England begin their campaign against holders Ireland in Dublin on Feb. 2 and Ford was particularly pleased by Tuilagi's performance in Leicester's 34-16 victory over Gloucester in the Premiership on Jan. 5.
"Against Gloucester he was particularly impressive in defence, flying around, putting big hits in," Ford added. "His match fitness is getting back there, which is really exciting for the club and for England as well."
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)